There is a lot of conversation among bicycling advocates across the country about what we can do to deter crazy people (mostly but not always in cars) from harassing people on bicycles. Recently, Illinois passed a law making it a misdeamor to threaten someone on a bike, punishable with jail time and/or fines. Similar laws are on the books in Boise, Idaho and Columbia, Missouri.
Technically, it’s already against the law to threaten someone (assault) but somehow, we keep hearing random stories from different parts of the country about extremely unsafe motorist road rage directed toward us. Many of you have a story of a car that seemed to intentionally run you off the road. “But I didn’t see him, Officer!” Some of your comments on our facebook page suggest you would support a similar bicycle-specific law in South Florida. Some of you say make a different point; Keri says,
“We have to get away from us v. them. We are all us. I drive a car, I drive a bike, sometimes I walk. The freedom to choose my mode is influenced by a lot of factors, and certainly a significant factor is the way I feel I will be treated by people choosing to make their trip by car.”
Keri and our friend George made a great video with legal commentary on this topic for the Florida Bicycle Association’s Florida Bike Law page (I’m not posting it here because I think it’s really worth reading the full post so please click for the link). The South Florida Bike Coalition encourages you to think about your rights and responsibilities on the roadway. Too many people that I meet on rides are unaware of their basic right to ride safely in the street. Many of us are either misinformed about our rights or wary to exercise them fully, lest we get wrapped up in what can feel like a no-win situation. Personally, I believe we need to talk about it more. Talk is action when people don’t know better.
Your opinion matters to us. The South Floride Bike Coalition is working full-time to improve and increase bicycling in South Florida. Please drop us a comment or call us anytime.